Firemen come to rescue, then need to be rescued

Sep 22, 2011, 06:48 IST | Sheetal Sukhija

Building collapse kills 1 and injures 10 after chemical reaction triggers twin LPG cylinder blasts; Six fire personnel severely injured in attempt to rescue four trapped civilians

Building collapse kills 1 and injures 10 after chemical reaction triggers twin LPG cylinder blasts; Six fire personnel severely injured in attempt to rescue four trapped civilians
A chain of events caused by a chemical reaction triggered two LPG cylinder blasts and resulted in a building collapsing and killing 1 person and injuring 10 others.

Rescue operation on at the site adjoining Lakshmi Venkateshwara Choultry in Sommannahalli where a teenaged girl was killed and ten persons, including six fire force personnel, were injured yesterday. Fire fighters arrived at the scene a whole hour after the first blast shook the building

The incident occurred at around 1.30 pm at a cleaning acid manufacturing plant in Sumanahalli, when containers of chemicals stored in the backyard of a marriage hall below the factory ruptured and triggered one of the blasts.
The first blast caused the building to collapse and killed 18-year-old Kavita and trapped four others under falling debris.

The second blast followed later, while firemen were searching for survivors, and the intensity was enough to damage six other buildings in the vicinity.

Immediately after the first blast at 1.30 pm, residents of surrounding areas informed the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services and waited for them to show up.

However, it took four fire fighters a whole hour to finally reach the spot and after another hour of trying to locate and rescue four trapped civilians, it was time for the firefighters to call for help.

Additional fire services personnel, who had followed later entered the fray and located their severely injured comrades and them to the nearby Lakshmi Multi-specialty Hospital.

"We have managed to evacuate our fire fighters from the debris and now we will try and rescue the civilians stuck inside," said B G Changappa, director, Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services.

The police department deputed 40 personnel at the spot, while nine fire tenders and over 100 fire fighting personnel were pressed into action to get the situation under control.

Cause confirmed
Meanwhile, the fire department officials issued a statement saying that the fire was caused by an LPG cylinder blast. When rescue operations were underway, another LPG cylinder blast was reported, causing a huge fire. Around six building in the vicinity were rattled and a mobile tower was on the verge of collapsing.

"The fire started in the Lakshmi Venkateshwara Kalyana Mantapa, but upon initial investigations we discovered that there was a cleaning acid manufacturing factory in the backyard of the mantapa and that a chemical reaction triggered the cylinder blasts," said Changappa.

Kavita's parents break down after learning that their daughter is no more. One of the six firefighters, who was trapped during the rescue operation in the city yesterday, being carried out by comrades

The police did their bit and the traffic pouring in from Magadi Road and surrounding areas were diverted so that rescue operations could be conducted in full swing.

Commissioner of Police BG Jyotiprakash Mirji said "A blast occurred around 1.30 pm when six fire personnel and four civilians were inside the building."

Heroes of the day
Residents of the area saved a few people trapped inside the building when the fire broke out initially.
"We saw the building collapsing like a pack of cards.
It was absolutely terrifying so I gathered six of my friends and rushed into the debris to save anyone trapped.
We managed to get a few out, but were shocked to see others still inside," said a resident. Another resident revealed that around 15 LPG cylinders were stacked at the marriage hall.

Meanwhile, fire fighters found the body of II PUC student, Kavita late in the evening and those injured were rushed to hospital where they are under observation.

Barely a year and a half after the Carlton Towers inferno and six other tragic fires in the city, the department is still in no condition to carry out a rescue operation effectively.

The incident also revealed how unprepared the fire department actually is managing and planning for such eventualities.

No excuses!
w The fire department officials blame the narrow lanes for hampering rescue operation. They have four fire fighting motorcycles specifically for negotiating hard to get to areas and are equipped to put out minor fires. These bikes were not put into use and were lying around in the department's headquarters.

1.30 PM: Building collapses after blast 
1.35 PM: Fire force receives call
2.45 PM: Firefighters  reach spot, 
2.50 PM: Four firefighters enter building
3.45 PM: Trapped firefighters rescued
5.15 PM: Four civilians rescued
6.00 PM: Body of Kavita found

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